Put your fingers down! You know better!
-Myself towards one of my players holding up on her hands the current score-
I may have come from a small, rural, corn-fed community, but one thing holds very true: winning is everything in Smalltown, U.S.A.
From the time we were in U6 to the time I was in high school, life depended on that ‘W’. You’re from ‘backwoods’, you have ‘so much to prove’, you have to show ‘everyone wrong’, be like the ‘1980 hockey team’, believe like ‘Rudy’, and be ‘As One’.
It gets beaten into you over time, and even when you’re 24 and you’re indoor team hasn’t won a game [got rocked 2-8 last night, thanks for asking], there is always the relaxation of Saturday mornings with little kids kicking a ball bigger then their head and parents going crazy on the sideline.
It’s all fun, because the points don’t matter…
…the points don’t matter…
So, my other coach wasn’t present today, meaning I was in control of the game today [nerve racking is the proper description of that]; and we started the game, no issues except for one upset tummy and a ‘dive’ in the middle of the field.
Then we scored…
For those at home keeping track, the game finished with a final score of 4-2 in favor of the ‘Peeps’, while trying not to get caught up in the temptation of counting the goals and playing proper ‘positions’ and substituting based on play, and instead based on the fact that everyone plays equally; I saw out of the corner of my eye one of my players walking towards me after the 4th goal holding up both hands.
Left hand: 4 fingers up
Right hand: 2 fingers up
Indicating the current score of the game. It was then that I drew the line and told the player to put her hands down because she plays with her feet, not with her hands. Afterwards, after shaking hands with the other players of the opposing team [who were obviously also keeping score in their heads], I had another player ask about the final score; I was so close to blurting out, “4-2, ya’ll won!”, but instead at the last second I came up the cheesy response of, “Everyone won today, because you played great!”
It’s hard when you know the score. I’m starting to believe that it is more difficult to continue to preach good sportsmanship when you know in your head that statistically speaking; you ‘officially’ won. However, it’s Under-8 soccer, and we’re in the United States. Realistically you know what declares a winner in my book? A kid that can step away from their Nintendo DS, Facebook, and cell phone [yes, 8 year old’s with cell phones], and choose to be active. That’s winning in my book [now if we could motivate the teenagers].
As I told a former coach today, my mother, while sitting at Starbucks following the game; it is hard not to be boastful, not to gloat about what just took place. However, as a coach, one must be able to recognize the difference between adamant praise towards a player, and encouragement of a winning persona. As stated in earlier post, if this was U-16, U-18, or even U-12; there would be an added incentive towards winning.
I suppose the lesson learned today, is that everyone wants to be a winner, and our society says that only one can win.
In my book though; if you’re active and smiling while attempting to run down the field…you’ve already won.
P.S. Wonder where I pick up this stuff? Yes, I took some coaching classes in college; find out about them when you find me on Twitter: @CoachDaugherty